73 Years Old and Delivering Food

No, not me. Not yet.

Maria Shimizu Christensen

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Photo by Eduardo Barrios on Unsplash

The buzzer to my apartment gave off its deafening fire alarm roar and I answered with my usual chipper “Hello?” I always want the people who deliver stuff to me to know that I appreciate them. A lot. Someone even more chipper let me know that my sushi had arrived.

When I opened the door a tiny woman handed me my food, and we started chatting. Well, she started chatting and I followed her lead. I don’t like to be rude without a good reason. We’ve been having a heat wave here in Seattle — over 90 degrees is hot for us, particularly since there isn’t a lot of AC in this city, so I asked if she was staying cool.

“Oh yes,” she informed me. She kept her car AC cranked and parked in the shade when she could. Then she said, “I’m 73 years old, born and raised around here, and I don’t ever remember it being this hot so often, every year!” Well, neither can I and I’m nearly 60, and I probably said so on autopilot. Probably we chatted briefly about climate change, but I don’t remember. I couldn’t get over her age.

Nothing wrong with being in your 70s, working at a job, even if it’s part time. Everyone has their reasons. But she’s now the 3rd woman I know in her 70s who isn’t enjoying a leisurely retirement, and contemplating my own near future, I get it.

A report published in 2021 by the University of Massachusetts Boston Gerontology Institute pointed out that:

54 percent of women age 65 or older and living alone were economically insecure — meaning they did not have enough income to afford their local cost of living without assistance.

Seattle is an expensive city. One of my neighbors, a woman in her 70s, can barely afford the rent on her one-bedroom apartment. She asked me to keep an ear out for jobs she could do. She used to be a schoolteacher. If her eyesight were better she’d probably be delivering food, but she thinks she’ll have to give up driving in the near future. I hope her eyesight didn’t allow her to see the tears welling up in my eyes.

What kind of future is that?

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Maria Shimizu Christensen

Writer. Maker. Featured in Medium’s 2021 list of Stories That Started Conversations. I write about life. https://www.mariashimizuchristensen.com